To mark the start of the new year, I’ll be posting simple suggestions to improve your life this year for each of the major categories in this blog.

Install and set up My Weekly Browsing Schedule on Firefox.

My Weekly Browsing Schedule

(This, of course, assumes that your main browser is Firefox.)

My Weekly Browsing Schedule is a Firefox extension that automatically opens websites according to the schedule you provide it. Setting this up on your browser can boost your productivity in two ways:

1. It saves you the burden of manually going through your bookmarks.

People normally use bookmarks to open regularly visited websites at certain times in a day. They open mail, news, and social networking sites at the start of the day and at regular intervals throughout the day. Some sites like webcomics and stock market news only need to be visited once a day. Other sites require less visiting frequency, maybe just once or twice a week.

The problem with the bookmark approach is that your browsing efficiency is dependent on whether you’re disciplined enough to develop a good browsing habit e.g. you don’t visit certain sites too often (see the next reason below) and you don’t forget to go to the rarely visited sites.

My Weekly Browsing Schedule can help resolve that problem. You can define which sites open at startup. You can define which sites open at certain hours and the days of the week. You can even tell the extension to catch up with certain sites in case the browser wasn’t open when they were scheduled.

2. It helps cut down on distractions.

When you’re working and have internet access, it can be tempting to check your mail, your social networking sites, and news sites once in a while to keep up with things.

Studies show that this habit can kill your productivity. Don’t believe them? Install ManicTime and see for yourself how many hours a day you waste on those sites.

The most common suggestion to deal with this problem is to learn to “batch” these sites at certain times (I personally use 4 hour intervals). Now while I’ve written against batching previously, the scenario is different in this case because of the conversational nature of e-mail and social networking sites. The more you visit and participate in these sites, the more you’re compelled to post new stuff and initiate conversations.

When you limit yourself to certain times during the day, you get more work done while still keeping up with the updates in your social network (preventing you from becoming a soulless zombie/corporate slave). The extension can help you with this, though you’ll still have to learn to close the sites when you’re done to keep yourself from refreshing/checking on them.

The downside to this extension is that the UI is clunky at the moment. Setting up a schedule will eat up a bit of your time, especially if you visit a lot of sites regularly.

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